One of the top players in the Class of 2016 has decided to reopen his recruitment on the heels of a standout performance at the FIBA U18 European Championships.
6-foot-10 forward T.J. Leaf, who represented Israel at the event and hails from San Diego, has de-committed from Arizona. At the time of Leaf’s commitment in late November he picked the Wildcats over Florida, UCLA, Duke and Michigan. Given his progression in both the high school and international game, it’s safe to say that Leaf will be a highly sought-after recruit now that he’s decided to reopen his recruitment.
“Thank you to Arizona for the opportunity to play for an outstanding program but I’ve decided to reopen my recruitment,” Leaf said in a statement he posted on Twitter Thursday night. “The school and staff of Arizona have been great to me and I have nothing but respect for Coach Miller and the entire staff and wish them nothing but the best. But at this point in my life I know it’s best to explore my options and pursue other basketball opportunities.”
Leaf was Arizona’s lone commit in the class, and with three seniors in the front court this decision has major implications for Sean Miller and his staff as they look to put together their next class of freshmen. The Wildcats will lose Kaleb Tarczewski, Mark Tollefsen and Ryan Anderson at the end of the 2015-16 season, leaving Dusan Ristic, Rekwon Smith and Chance Commanche as front court players with eligibility remaining beyond the upcoming season.
It should be noted that Arizona is in the running for multiple high-level front court prospects, including De’Ron Davis, Schnider Herard, M.J. Cage and Mitch Lightfoot. Those recruitments become more important in light of Thursday’s news.